“Fresh” by Rasma Haidri

Rasma Haidri


I think I heard a joke one time
about a woman who ironed her sheets.
This was in America, the Midwest
in case that explains why it was
funny. I didn’t laugh. Never ironed
a thing in my life, hardly ever
washed a sheet, and when I did
they came from the washer flat,
nearly folded, material wrinkle-free,
some kind of plastic I guess.
That was in that other life,
the one that ended the day I
visited your apartment, suddenly
craving to place my bare foot
on your bare calf, while you sat
in a cat-scratch chair, stitching
a bedsheet for your godson, some kind of
anti-embroidery, a Norwegian craft
involving removing threads
from cloth. I didn’t lift my foot
to touch your leg. I had a husband
and you were a woman
I only sort of knew from choir,
but around the room your fresh
laundry hung on racks, impossible
sweetness drugging my senses,
so when you stepped out, I acted,
no forethought or plan, no inkling
of the consequences, I lifted a pair
of your underpants to my nose,
inhaling the shocking premonition
of today—eighteen years on—
the sweet laundered scent in our bedroom
as I slip between cotton sheets
you have ironed so smooth and crisp.

from Rattle #83, Spring 2024


Rasma Haidri: “My poems are like snapshots, a moment in freeze-frame that shows the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. I never forgot the moment when I shocked myself by picking her underwear off the drying rack, but I didn’t think to write about it in my collection of poems that covers the trials and triumphs of that year we fell in love. I think all never-forgotten moments are poems in the waiting. I try to stay alert and notice when a memory is ready to tell me, in a poem, the reason it sticks. This memory is from the year we met, but its significance is for the 25-year anniversary book of love poems.” (web)

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